Monday, 18 January 2010

Bilal urges respect for isles constitution

AS calls for the extension of President Amani Abeid Karume presidency tenure mount among politicians here, former Chief Minister, Dr Mohammed Gharib Bilal, yesterday came out openly to say that the Zanzibar constitution that limits presidency to two terms should be respected.

He said that an argument by the opposition Civic United Front (CUF), for a change of the constitution to enable President Karume to seek a third term, ‘lacks legs to stand on.’

“This argument can not justify constitutional amendments and the postponement of the forthcoming general elections”, he said, adding: “We must respect and abide by the constitution.

Unfortunately, we still do not know much about an agreement between Karume and Hamad (CUF Secretary General).

Had we been aware, people would have discussed it in accordance with their agreement,” said Bilal, who vied for the presidency in the 2005 general elections, which saw Karume winning the slot. Dr Bilal said that CCM leaders would deliberate thoroughly on the issue, after receiving an official report.

“I recognise Karume/Hamad reconciliation and I also respect what the president said on constitutional presidency terms. However, I will respect the voice of the majority,” he added.

Dr Bilal shares sentiments with the CCM Deputy Secretary General for Zanzibar, Mr Salehe Ramadhan Feruz, who opposes the idea of constitutional change to allow Mr Karume to stand for a third term.

“I personally see no reason for changing the constitution, if the issue is to extend President Karume’s term, then it should be referred to party organs for deliberation,” Mr Feruzi said.

He maintains that the constitution should be respected and the amendment be accommodated in accordance with official party consensus.

Efforts to get comments from Zanzibar’s Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Pandu Ameir Kificho, Attorney General, Mr Idd Pandu Hassan, Minister of State in the Vice-

President’s Office (Union Matters), Mr Mohammed Seif Khatib and Deputy Chief Minister, Mr Ali Juma Shamuhuna, proved futile yesterday.

The push for extension of Mr Karume’s term agenda has been in limelight since he announced that the constitution does not allow him for another term.

Immediately, CUF came out strongly advocating for Karume to have another term in office, but with little public support from the CCM ranks.

CUF legislators are planning to meet this week to forge a common stand in lobbying and for delay of general elections, so as to allow President Karume's tenure in office.

CUF’s Secretary General and a senior official of the party, Mr Salum Bimani, have on different occasions been quoted supporting the adjournment of general elections in Zanzibar.

“We commend President Jakaya Kikwete for supporting the on-going reconciliation; there is no doubt that he will support every step.

We also thank Prof Issa Shivji for his open letter which fully supports the postponement of the elections,” the CUF leaders were quoted as saying on different occasions on Saturday, at a public rally held at Kibanda-maiti.

According to them, Zanzibar legislators (both from CCM and CUF), will unanimously support the adjournment of elections later this year and allow Mr Karume extra tenure in office.

Source: Daily News

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